Britfilm Indies To Get WARP Drive
British filmmakers are to get a shot in the arm as Warp X, a new digital film studio designed to shake up the way feature films are financed and produced in Britain, launches on 23rd March. Warp X is backed by £4.5 million of funding from the National Lottery, Film Four and regional screen agencies and by using the latest digital production methods, Warp plan to make seven low budget feature films over the next three years.
Warp X was awarded £3 million as one of the companies chosen to manage the Low Budget Film Scheme. The scheme was set up by UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund and FilmFour as a unique initiative to generate and sustain a low budget film industry in Britain for the first time. The additional £1.5 million comes from Screen Yorkshire and EM Media.
Having secured a distribution alliance with Optimum Releasing, Warp X is now fully set up to be a much-needed ‘one-stop shop’ for creative filmmakers offering development support, production finance and theatrical distribution in the UK.
The launch of Warp X comes at a time when the British film industry is beginning to explore the implications of digital technology for traditional production and business models. The harnessing of cutting edge digital technology with low budget production methods, namely high definition, will enable Warp X to be well placed to take advantage of the coming digital transformation of film distribution.
Warp X has been set up by Mark Herbert and Robin Gutch, and is allied to Warp Films and Warp Records. The creative and commercial success of Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes, produced by Warp Films and released in 2004, influenced the setting up of Warp X to make low budget films that are distinctive and market orientated. International low budget break out titles like Wolf Creek, Napoleon Dynamite and Me, You and Everyone We Know have also been key inspirations.
Herbert and Gutch comment: “Warp X wants movies that can be made faster, leaner, lighter –
with no excess baggage. And then to use that freedom to ‘re-tox’ British cinema with an injection of adventure. Our ideal is to make films which audiences find exhilarating, whether they be original interpretations of marketable genres or stories with a passion and hook that gets them noticed in the marketplace.”
Warp X‘s business model is also innovative in the way that creative talent, cast, crew and producers will benefit from the commercial success of a film as they will be able to participate in revenue from ‘first dollar or pound’.
Herbert and Gutch emphasise that “rewarding creative talent for success on a film which they have worked on for low fees is essential, and the model we have been able to set up creates a more generous participation structure than is the norm in the British film industry.
Revenue will also be reinvested in the scheme and Warp X - which means there is a real opportunity for Warp X to grow into a sustainable creative business in the future.” Unusually for the London-centric British film industry, the main Warp X production office will be based in Sheffield, with satellite offices in London and Nottingham.
Herbert and Gutch have now put in place their core development and production team of Barry Ryan (Head of Production), Caroline Cooper –Charles (Head of Creative Development) and Mary Burke (Development Producer). Paul Trijbits, Head of the New Cinema Fund says: “The New Cinema Fund is fundamentally about finding, nurturing and bringing on new and emerging talent to British audiences. This is the most risky - but, ultimately most rewarding - area of film production for financiers and vital for the long term development of UK creative and innovative filmmaking.
"Nurturing filmmakers and getting their films to audiences, however, needs so much more than just finance and that’s where Warp X’s approach to this project is innovative and exciting. We have established with FilmFour, UK distributor Optimum and the Regional Screen Agencies, a unique package allowing for seven films to be fully funded and at the same integrating development, production and distribution. This, in essence creates a possibility for a viable long-term low-budget studio set-up.”
Peter Carlton, Head of FilmFour Lab adds: "The Warp X virtual studio which FilmFour has initiated and backed with UKFC and our other partners, marks a bold step to take low-budget British film-making out of the garret and to develop and back films which connect with audiences without compromising their boldness of vision. We are excited to be working with the Warp X creative team and to be building on Warp's history of vibrant music and film production from their Sheffield base."
WEBLINK: Further information and submission details - www.warpx.co.uk